Consider the illustrations (above) of a canoe being paddled up a waterfall, or that of a chick cracking out of its egg. For the bird to try and return to its previous stage is to go against the inevitable evolution of things, and very clearly to go against itself. A different aspect of the principle is revealed if we consider the case of parents who refuse to accept their children’s growth and changing needs, and find it difficult to let go. They end up doing their children no service, hurting themselves, and sometimes seriously imperilling the relations between them.
For the first week of reflection on each principle we supplement our considerations with a story that might help in our understanding of some of its aspects.
Take a look at the following tale, versions of which appear in the folk-stories of various peoples. The one related here is loosely based on the version in the Indian Panchatantra. It tells of a poor turtle (aptly named, Turtleneck) who tries to avoid the changes occuring around him, and instead goes to extreme lengths to escape from that situation into another. As the old saying has it he ends up going from the frying pan into to the fire (more or less literally).
Turtleneck, the turtle, lived in a beautiful and lush pond where he spent his days burrowed into the muddy bottom or floating about chatting with his good friends the geese who always summered there. Unfortunately for the visiting water birds a great drought had come, as it did every few years, and the pond was drying up. One day they said to their amphibious friend: “the water is disappearing so we must depart. We will return next year if the drought is over to pass the summer with you. If not we will certainly land to have a little chat before we fly on.”
Turtleneck responded: “I understand why you must go. I can easily live here, even if I have to burrow down into the muck of the small pond that will remain, but our needs our very different and it will not be enough water for all of you. However, life here will be very boring without you. I’m coming with.”
The geese answered: “But little wingless friend how can that be? We will be flying far and fast.” “I have a plan,” said the turtle, “two of you should pick up that stick over there and hold it tightly in your beaks. I in turn will bite it and hold it in mine.” They replied: “There are two problems with your plan, hard shelled one. First, leaving here is for us a matter of life and death, while for you it is more a matter of whimsy. Secondly, while we, your friends, find your habit of always needing to comment on everything endearing, in this case, if you forget yourself and start to talk it could precipitate a catastrophe and end your life. Perhaps it is better that you remain until we return since you can easily adapt to the coming changes.”
But Turtleneck insisted and his plan was put into effect and, with great effort, the two geese carried their friend aloft. As they flew low over the nearby village the people ran out to gaze at this miraculous sight. In their astonishment they turned to each other and asked: “what could this be”? “Can you make it out”? “Is that a chariot pulled by birds”? The turtle, remembering the stones that the village children had thrown at her as she lay in her pond wanted to impress the people with her ability to fly. Suddenly, she cried out loudly: “It is I, Turtleneck!”. Of course only the geese heard her words as she plummeted to her death. Some of the villagers who were very fond of turtle soup carried her home for dinner.